Thursday, 7 January 2010

Happy new year. But just how new would you like it?

Happy New Year to All and to all a good day.

Sadly, I have to report that my pre-festive determination to leave the world at my mother's doorstep largely failed.
Partly because my father is a news junkie (I had to take after someone in my family and I could have done a lot worse, trust me).
Partly because politics is what the Greeks discuss at table. Always and without fail. Ok maybe not all Greeks. But all the ones I am related to do which made all the difference as I was trying to stick to my no-sadness-no-aggravation Christmas diet.
And finally because some of the news is so random that even the dry-cleaner cannot resist offering you his theory on how the police should go about apprehending the Athens sniper (done now, maybe he called the authorities after failing to get the right reaction out of me).

So I failed.
Even though I barricaded myself behind mountains of confectionery, the world with all its despair and madness filtered through.
Christmas-day despair, poverty and desperation reached me as I had feared it might.
And the new year celebrations were no different.
I got to hear about the first casualties in Afghanistan for 2010 – if there could ever be a stronger reminder that the old adage holds strong: different year, same ole crap. People still dying way too young, fighting an un-winnable war, following a bankrupt policy in someone else's ravaged country.

But I've been here before. And I guess that's the point.
As I look through the news – no longer pretending to try to avoid it – I feel more than ever that Christmas is just a time in the calendar. A time during which you put things on ice, maybe, slow things down, perhaps. But Santa never leaves solutions under the tree and goodwill and love don't go beyond our TV screens.
Maybe I spent way too long watching made-for-TV American movies in which 'it's Christmas after all' was the line that resolved a seemingly unsolvable problem. 'It's Christmas after all' is what melted the heart of the most hard-nosed unrelenting mean-spirited bastard.

What a thought.
If only we really had a window of time when we could hope to appeal to inner goodness and do what is right on a higher plain. But then again, if that was possible for two weeks a year, it would be conceivable for the rest of the year and where would that get us?

A very nice place, is where it would get us. A fairer, stabler and altogether more livable place, is where it would get us. But it would dent P&L accounts, it would weaken power-holds, it would shift our priorities, the things that make our world go round. It would make our world less like the mess we currently live in and more like the sort of place we pretend we want to live in in Christmas movies.

Well. Sign me the hell up.
I want to live in a place where 'it's Christmas after all' justifies altruism, goodness and a kind gesture. Because I believe that what goes round comes round. And I believe in goodness as a way of life. And if it means I get to live in a more humane world, then I'll believe in Santa Bloody Clause if that's what it takes.

So as I read about Obama facing a mass exodus in the Senate, Brown facing demands for early elections, young boys accusing the Greek police of torture on the island of Patmos, war risks rising in the Sudan and a drive-by shooting at a Coptic church killing seven innocent people in Egypt on their Christmas, what I try to hold onto is my faith. That what we have is not all we can have. That all there is is not all there can be.

That, although it's not Christmas any more, if you are capable of goodness once you are capable of goodness always. That we are capable of goodness once.
Because it is our life and our world and our future, after all. Christmas or not.
So happy new year to all.
Let's see what we can do with this one.